Food policies must ensure that the entire population has access to sufficient quantities of the foods that make up a healthy diet without endangering the household economy.
The basic food basket provides a measure of people at risk of not being able to acquire the necessary basic food requirements. Freepik.
Food is a fundamental right and so is healthy eating, which allows for an active and healthy life. Eating healthily should not be a luxury. This is even more important when a country is going through an economic crisis and price inflation. This is when the political sphere must work harder than ever to guarantee food security, taking care not to affect any link in the chain: primary producers - agriculture, fishing and livestock farming, which are the basis of our food - and end consumers.
Food is a fundamental right and healthy food, which allows for an active and healthy life, is also a fundamental right
The basic food basket (BFB) is an indicator that measures people at risk of not being able to acquire the necessary basic food and nutrient requirements. It is therefore important that it is a fully developed tool in order to be effective.
The proposal made by the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN), despite being a good initial step, does not establish a recommended frequency of consumption, nor the amount of each of the recommended foods that should be purchased. Nor does it set the actual budget in real time, establishing only a guideline of €30 per week, an amount that seems insufficient considering the cost of shopping and the rise in the CPI for food, which has hit healthy products such as olive oil, fruit, vegetables, eggs, and even hygiene products, particularly hard.
Probably the most feasible measure would be to reduce VAT on foods that should be present in a healthy diet, ensuring that, although not all of them are present, there is a sufficient variety of each group to avoid the perception of poverty. Following the example of other countries, and taking into account economic forecasts, it could even be considered to reach 0 % VAT on these foods.
Leaving the price in the hands of distributors could have a negative impact on fresh food producers: farmers, fishermen and livestock farmers.
Professional, scientific and third sector entities
It is essential for the implementation of the basic food basket to have the presence of professional and scientific bodies of dietitians and nutritionists as reference health professionals, as well as third sector and humanitarian organisations dedicated to people at risk of vulnerability, exclusion or with limited access to food, without forgetting entities representing the agri-food sector.
The General Council of Official Associations of Dietitians-Nutritionists and the Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, in addition to drafting the position paper "The Basic Food Basket: a tool to reduce inequalities in access to basic foodstuffs for the Spanish population", have made ourselves available to political bodies to contribute our knowledge and experience in food, nutrition and dietary guidelines for the population, in the definition of a basic food basket.
This basket should meet dietary recommendations and do so at an affordable cost for those most at risk of vulnerability and social exclusion
This basket should comply with dietary recommendations and do so at an affordable cost for people at greater risk of vulnerability and social exclusion, as well as for people with intolerances such as coeliac disease, who are particularly affected by the cost of food.
Access to a healthy diet is not something that should be promoted for a few weeks, but should be permanent, ensuring food security. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), all people should at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their daily energy needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.